Guys, I can now tell you this with 100% certainty: clothing swaps are awesome! And clothing swap brunch parties--with cocktails and delicious food--are double-awesome.
As you may know, I hosted a groovy little clothing swap brunch party on Saturday in my apartment. I invited a random mix of friends and family to join and asked them each to bring along all the clothing, shoes, and accessories that they no longer want (or fit into). I set up racks and hangers so we could display the clothing just like in a chic little boutique. The plan was to get all the girls together, offer them lots of champagne and delicious food, and then set them loose to “shop.”
And the plan worked!
To eat (because this *is* a food blog), I prepared a brunch buffet with a selection of sweet and savory items: a baked spiral ham with a brown sugar glaze, fresh steamed green beans tossed with thinly sliced shallots in a mustard vinaigrette, a big salad of mixed greens with a homemade dressing of lemon juice, garlic, shallots, and olive oil.
A cheese plate, of course, with big bunches of grapes, slices of freshly baked baguette, goat cheese with lavender and fennel pollen, and a small wheel of brie. I made a traditional Tortilla Espanola (Spanish Omelet) with potatoes, onions, and a dash of smoked paprika. I also made a lemony chicken salad that I served over a bed of mixed greens.
I bought some of my absolute favorite par-baked croissants from Fresh Direct and baked them just before the guests arrived so that they would be hot and buttery right out of the oven. [These things are delicious and a regular in my home! If you live in New York and use Fresh Direct, I urge you to try them out immediately!]
I love flavored butters, so I whipped together a stick of softened unsalted butter with a pinch of salt and a 1/4 cup of honey. This made a sweet honey butter that was lovely on walnut raisin rolls.
Every good brunch needs fruit, so I set out a bowl of strawberries and sliced up a cantaloupe. I also put out some snacks and candy in little bowls around the room: dried chili mangos, dried edamame, fruit chips, strawberry licorice twists, chocolate covered pretzels, and raspberry slices.
For dessert, I made a flourless chocolate almond cake (using this recipe, but subbing almond flour for the hazelnut meal). It’s rich and chocolate-y, and also gluten free so that my friend Vanessa could partake.
(And partake she did; even taking home three slices after the party!)
To drink, I had several bottles of rose and sparkling wine chilling in the fridge. I also prepared a huge batch of Passion Fruit Lemonade (my new favorite summer drink) that I served in the mason jar beverage dispenser I was raving about last week.
The nonalcoholic lemonade was paired with a boozy (and pink!) punch. I ran out of gin so I just made this recipe using vodka instead. It was just as delicious, although I may have been a little heavy handed with the vodka (not that I had any complaints!).
I provided the racks and the hangers, and just let the girls arrange their clothing wherever. I originally planned to hand out tickets to keep things fair, but in the end I just asked everyone to remember how much stuff they brought and to stick to that number when selecting stuff to take home.
That worked perfectly, and we had so much clothing leftover that there was enough for everyone to really just take as much as they wanted!
Most of the girls seem to make out very well! Lara, my friend and fellow blogger, got some gorgeous shoes, some jewelry, a few cute dresses, and an awesome little terrycloth romper that I still insist she should pair with roller-skates. ;)
Fellow blogger/writer Stephanie and my coworker Aryanna both got some great dresses (and Steph got the coolest hat!) My mom (yes! I invited my mom) got herself a dress to wear while accompanying my dad to the Emmys last night along with several other pieces.
My future mother-in-law, Tatyana, also made out like a bandit with several dresses, shirts, and some jewelry. As did my future aunt-in-law, Yelena, and future cousin-in-law, Michelle, (the latter of whom scored a really great pink leather purse that will be fabulous for the spring/summer).
I got several dresses, a few pairs of shoes that I can't wait to wear, and some sweaters (a couple of which used to belong to Tatyana who also got one of my former dresses; Eugene noted that seeing his mom and future wife wearing each other’s clothing might prove “confusing.”)
Once everyone had their final selections and had settled back down in their chairs, I jumped up and started hawking some of the unclaimed goods [“How about this sweater? This would be fantastic for a cozy afternoon at home! Or this little slutty dress from Frederick’s of Hollywood? Vanessa try on this hooker dress!”] until every single item had gotten a thorough consideration.
(For the record, Vanessa did try on the hooker dress and she loved it. Also for the record, the hooker dress originally belonged to my mom!)
After the girls went home, I packed up all the leftover clothing, shoes, and accessories (6 huge bags worth) and Eugene and I drove it all over to Housing Works where the goods will be sorted and sold and the money will then go to benefit homeless New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS.
Actually, that's totally a lie. After the girls went home, I ate a plate of leftovers and passed out on the couch. The NEXT DAY, I packed up all the clothing and (with Eugene's help) brought it over to Housing Works.
Good times, clean closets, new clothes without spending money, and a big donation to charity. Have you ever heard of a more perfect win-win-win situation?
Tomorrow I’ll go into more detail on how you can throw your OWN clothing swap party. I highly recommend it!
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